Last revised: 26-1-2009

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Lancia Coupés & Convertibles: the Aurelia cabriolet

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Somewhere in between a production car and a coachbuilt special is the Aurelia cabriolet. It was one of the first Aurelia variants and was unveiled together with the Aurelia B10 berlina at the 1950 Turin Car Show. It was a one-off show car created by Pininfarina on the commercial Aurelia B50 platform but many people showed interest in this four-seater convertible and orders were placed. So Pininfarina decided to start production of this design on a small scale. Remarkably this model became so popular that it even outsold some regular Lancia production models.

1951_Lancia_Aurelia_B50_S1_cabriolet_PininfarinaThe Aurelia cabriolet was a relatively large and stately car which looked its best in dark colors with its top down. Its body was hand made the traditional way by the craftsmen of Pininfarina and not one was exactly the same. There were differences in trim and finish and sometimes special orders by customers were worked into the design. All Aurelia cabriolets were right hand drive, in good Lancia tradition.
It was produced on the rolling chassis which Lancia made available to external coachbuilders. Most were made on the B50 chassis and some on the improved B52 platform. Engine and mechanics were exactly the same as those used in the Aurelia B10 berlina (or B21 in case of the B52 platform), but it had a slightly longer wheelbase (291 cm instead of 286 cm). This meant that the 1200 kg cabriolet was powered by the 1754 cc V6 engine which produced 56 hp @ 4000 rpm. Clearly this wasn't enough for any exciting performance; it could do 135 kph at best. This car was not a sportscar but an open top cruiser.

1950_Lancia_Aurelia_B50_S1_cabriolet_PininfarinaThe cabriolet was big enough to transport at least 4 passengers in comfort, but some of them had only rudimentary rear seats which folded back. At a length of 475 cm it was considerably longer than the standard berlina and it was also a bit wider (165 cm). This translated into a spacious interior and a large boot but also in some awkward proportions. This design looks not as well balanced as more prominent Pininfarina creations.
Ultimately about 265 cabriolets have been built and production ended around 1953. The majority of these cars were manufactured during the first few years (1950-1952) on the B50 chassis. For a coachbuilt car this is a high number, especially for a car as expensive as this one was. Therefore it can almost be regarded as an production model.

As a classic the Aurelia cabriolet is something for the connoisseur. It's impressive, stately and rare but not a design icon nor a thrilling drive. Those who are attracted to special Lancias and like the nostalgic grand tourer style of the Aurelia cabriolet however are prepared to pay considerable sums to obtain one.
(picture by Sébastien Simon, used with permission)

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